Wednesday, December 31, 2014

To grade or not to grade.....



When I first began our homeschooling journey I never felt that a letter on a paper was really important. That does not mean that I do not look over my children's work and mark things wrong, because I do. I require my children to correct the things that are wrong so that I am sure that they master what they are learning before moving on. I begin to keep official grades and transcripts when my children enter the 9th grade.

We are blessed to live in a state that does not require us to be accountable to the state for how we homeschool. Not every state is the same so it is best to know what your state requires of homeschoolers. You can find this all out by going to HLSDA laws for homeschooling. There are many sites on the web to help with record keeping. One such site is Homeschooling Resources to Help Parents Raise Lifelong Learners.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fall Term Wrap-up


As we wrap up the first half of this year’s homeschooling year I thought it would be good to share our experience. I first want to say how very privileged I feel that we homeschool. The children have not only made academic strides but they have also gained many life lessons. Our year started out rocky again with a kiddo in the hospital with Para influenza. All of my best-laid plans were turned upside down. So often I find myself wondering why I fall victim to the “perfect, flawless beginning” each and every year. Over the years I have learned that the only way to approach homeschooling is to work around life instead of trying to work life around homeschooling.

Within weeks of the year starting my eldest child, in her first year of college, was blindsided by a breakup with her boyfriend of several years. Loves first heartbreak and wow was it rough. Realizing that she would have to find a way to deal with this trial without being able to interrupt her classes was tough. She pulled through and ended up successfully completing her first semester of college classes with flying colors.

Early on in the semester I realized that some of my kiddos were really struggling with their math. Again, I was reminded that just because one child succeeds with a curriculum does not mean that the others will have the same success. Over the years I am constantly reminded that homeschooling is not a cheap way out. Instead of making every child fit into the same cookie cutter mold, for true success to be found each child really needs their own custom fit curriculum. Each and every year I reevaluate how successful each and every child are doing and adjust to make them successful, confident learners. Sometimes this also means that a curriculum that is supposed to take more of the load off of mom just cannot be. In November I headed out to Mardel to purchase more math curriculum, not a cheap change but in the end will be so worth it.

Having a child with chronic, life threatening conditions always adds an extra element of craziness to homeschooling. Well, my daughter was granted a Make A Wish and the beginning of December we headed off to Disney World for a week. Normally, I would prefer to do schoolwork up until the week before Christmas but this year that just was not going to happen. The week before our big trip the kiddos were too excited to focus on schoolwork and I was running around trying to get everything in order in order for the trip to happen. So, basically Thanksgiving was our cut off for schoolwork. Again, my mommy brain was freaking because I knew where I wanted everyone to be academically by the end of the term and that did not quit happen.

Next, yet another devastating experience was the tragic loss of one of my eldest daughters friends from suicide. Again, her world was shaken and it was finals week. Life does not stop for tragedy. My daughter was able to pull it together to take a final the day after her friend’s death. One of her professors let her skip a final based on her exemplary grades.

Even though life has thrown some curve balls there was also greats strides gained this first term. My first grader is now a pretty fluent reader, and will actually be starting some 2nd grade curriculum in the spring. Co-op classes for the older children were amazing and they have learned so much. My son just last week was commenting on how whenever he reads something he is constantly annotating the text in his mind, LOL. The kiddos have read some amazing literature. Of course I am taking about “classics” not junk books. My 3rd and 6th graders have produced some amazing compositions and have come a long way with their writing skills. My 8th grader has taken a great interest in history and has immersed him into a growing stack of history books of all kinds. It is so fun to see your child find their nitch. My 3rd grader would be completely content if she could tailor all of her curriculum around animals. I am so very thankful for Apologia Science for their amazing elementary series on animals in creation.


I cannot end without sharing some of the amazing family experiences we had the privilege of attending this fall. What would childhood be with attending the Ringling Bros. Circus? Clowns, lions and elephants, acrobats, and all of the other fanfare that make a circus experience complete. Next, we visited the Dallas Aquarium and the Texas Discovery Garden where we experienced butterflies flying around us, aquatic creatures, and beautiful flower gardens. Next, we got to enjoy some wonderful theater performances at the Dallas Children’s Theater. We saw Rapunzel!, Rapunzel!, A Very Hairy Fairy Tale and Miracle on 34th Street.  Both performances where amazing. This year our family attended our first ever-live ballet performance of the Nutcracker. Wow, was that spectacular. Hannah especially loved it since she is a very serious dancer. To get us excited for our Disney World trip we got the privilege to attend Disney On Ice, cold but so very magical and fun. Last but not least, sports. Our family took in a Dallas Stars game, a Dallas Mavericks game and a Texas Rangers game.



Our family is enjoying our extended Christmas break as we celebrate the birth of Christ!!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Schoolhouse Teachers.com


I recently had the privilege of reviewing the Yearly Membership for SchoolhouseTeachers.com developed by The Old Schoolhouse MagazineWith the click of a mouse, over 100 courses, from PreK/Elementary, Middle School and High School, are offered by recognized homeschool leaders. You will find everything from dailies, lapbooks, videos, lesson plans, music lessons, unit studies, printables, full semester and year long programs, and so much more. If you have a special needs child, SchoolhouseTeachers.com has this covered. Whether you need full curriculums or help just "filling in the gaps", you are in for a treat. As a member, you get unlimited access and all you have to do is pick a subject, click, and begin. 

SchoolhouseTeacher.com works with both PC and Mac's. The first month you can get FREE. After that you can choose either a monthly fee for $12.95 or a year membership for $139. The site also offers a special SchoolhouseTeachers.com Co-op and Group Membership



The site in continually updated and new subjects and offerings are continually added. Do you want to: learn how to play the guitar, learn a bit of sign language, get help with writing,  dabble in a foreign language, get messy with some art, or find a way for your child to express him/herself, all the resources are at your fingertips.  Your imagination, with the available resources, allow you to find an exciting way to educate even a tough to educate child.  Do you want to make history come alive? The tools are all available for any kind of teaching method that you might want.  What I appreciate about SchoolhouseTeachers.com is the fact that you can work at your own pace and allow your imagination to create fun ways to learn.

As your child's teacher,  you can take advantage of other educator's creativity, expertise and hard work. Another amazing membership perk is the free TOS's Planners. With over 800 pages of schedules, charts, and calendars with limitless styles and formats you can organize your day.  If you are "on the go", a lot, like I am, the digital version of The Old Schoolhouse to Go is free with your yearly membership.

My daughter and I decided to dip our feet into the basics of American Sign Language (ASL). Each of the 16 weekly lessons utilizes a 25-30 minute video that includes downloadable materials such as practice sheets, vocabulary, quizzes and tests. In this course you will learn grammar and syntax rules, vocabulary for about 350 signs, manual alphabet, and numbers. Most importantly, your child will gain a better understanding of the Deaf Community. My daughter has had fun learning sign. Frequently she would forget something learned and it was so easy to go back and find what she needed. 


Secondly, my daughter tackled the beginning weeks of the 10-week supplemental writing mini-course that teaches the student basics of writing, utilizing compare and contrast. Our current curriculum does not have good step by step instruction in the various kinds of writing. I was tickled when I found that this was included in the program.  The course is written in a way that the student can easily understand and apply the concepts needed to build on necessary writing skills. Instead of being intimidated, both my daughter and I were empowered. My daughter successfully wrote her first compare and contrast and did great.

As an added bonus you can join the Facebook group SchoolhouseTeachers.com to share ideas and get help. 

If you are interested in seeing what others have to say about SchoolhouseTeachers.com Click here to read more reviews.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

The beauty of HOMESCHOOLING.....

The beauty of homeschooling is the ability to switch curriculums when something is not working or clicking. My oldest child set the bar high when it comes to math. She was able to go all of the way through Calculus using Teaching Textbooks without much trouble. Well, that is not the case for some of my other children. What works for one does not always work for another. I absolutely adore Rod and Staff in the early elementary years for math, phonics, spelling and grammar. I also use their grammar all of the way through high school as it is a very strong curriculum. Teaching Textbooks is just not working and so we are going back to Rod and Staff math for later elementary and middle school. It will require more work on my part but will be well worth the extra time it will take. So here we go, ready or not!!!!